Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pasta alla Norma

I think it's kind of hard to make cooked eggplant look good.  It's hard to improve on brown.  Thank goodness this dish has some colorful counterparts to help it live up to it's fantastic taste!

I don't usually buy eggplant but I found myself with not one but two a few weeks ago in my CSA basket.  My usual go-to dish for eggplant is this orzo, which is pretty phenomenal, but that only used up one of the eggplants.  So I went searching.  

I found a version of this pasta dish in a Cooking Light book of mine.  With a few tweaks, this turned out pretty amazing too.  Even if you don't think you like eggplant, when paired with it's flavorful friends, you might just change your mind. I even went out and bought another eggplant just to make it again!

Pasta alla Norma is a typical Sicilian dish and is served with ricotta salata, which is ricotta that has been aged, pressed, salted and dried.  Although it can be hard to come by, you can substitute a semi-firm, salty cheese, like feta or queso fresco.  In a pinch, you can also use fresh mozzarella as well, which is what I've done here.

Pasta alla Norma
3/4 lb. pasta (12 oz.)
olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
splash of white cooking wine
1 can diced tomatoes
large handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1/2-1 cup ricotta salata, grated or cubed 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop pasta and cook until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, peel and chop eggplant.  In a large skillet, heat a couple drizzles of olive oil and add the eggplant.  Cook on medium heat until brown and tender.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 30 seconds, then add the splash of cooking wine and cook until almost evaporated.  Add tomatoes and simmer until pasta is finished cooking.  Add most of basil at the last minute.

Drain pasta and pour into a large serving dish.  Pour eggplant sauce over pasta and toss to combine.  Top with cheese and the rest of the fresh basil.  Serve warm.

SOURCE: Adapted from Better Recipes

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